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Remove Privacy Protection (Uninstall Guide)

By on November 5, 2011 @ 12:24 PM | Read 197,683 times.
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Privacy Protection is a rogue anti-spyware program from the same family as Malware Protection. This rogue displays false scan results in order to trick you into thinking that your computer is infected. When this infection is installed on your computer it will be configured to start automatically. Once started it will scan your computer and list numerous infections, but if you attempt to remove any of these so-called infections it will state that you first need to purchase the program in order to remove anything. As these scan results are all fake, please do not purchase this program based upon anything it states.

 

Privacy Protection screen shot
Privacy Protection screen shot
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 6 images you can view.

 

While running, Privacy Protection will also display fake security alerts on your computer. These security alerts are used to make you think that there are various security problems on your computer. The text of one of these alerts is:

Security Warning
Malicious program has been detected. Click here to protect your computer.

Firewall Warning
Hidden file transfers to remote host has been detected.
has detected a leak of your files through the Internet. We strongly recommend that you block the attack immediately.

In order to protect itself, Privacy Protection will also not allow you to run most executables on your computer. When you attempt to run an executable you will instead be greeted with a message that states that the program is infected. The text of this message is:

calc.exe can not start
File calc.exe is infected by W32/Blaster.worm. Please activate Privacy Protection to protect your computer.

Just like the fake scan results, these fake alerts are just another tactic to have you purchase the program and should be ignored.

Without a doubt, the warnings issued by this program are all fake, and once you realize that, the alerts become more of a nuisance rather than a concern. Therefore, do not purchase Privacy Protection for any reason, and if you already have, please contact your credit card company and state that the program is a computer infection and a scam and that you would like to dispute the charge. To remove this infection and related malware, please follow the steps in the guide below.

 

Threat Classification:

 

Advanced information:

View Privacy Protection files.
View Privacy Protection Registry Information.

 

Tools Needed for this fix:

 

Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:

O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [Privacy Protection] %CommonAppData%\privacy.exe

 

Guide Updates:

11/05/11 - Initial guide creation.

 


Automated Removal Instructions for Privacy Protection using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:

 

  1. Print out these instructions as we may need to close every window that is open later in the fix.

  2. Reboot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking. To do this, turn your computer off and then back on and immediately when you see anything on the screen, start tapping the F8 key on your keyboard. Eventually you will be brought to a menu similar to the one below:


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Screen

    Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter on your keyboard. If you are having trouble entering safe mode, then please use the following tutorial: How to start Windows in Safe Mode

    Windows will now boot into safe mode with networking and prompt you to login as a user. Please login as the same user you were previously logged in with in the normal Windows mode. Then proceed with the rest of the steps.

  3. It is possible that the infection you are trying to remove will not allow you to download files on the infected computer. If this is the case, then you will need to download the files requested in this guide on another computer and then transfer them to the infected computer. You can transfer the files via a CD/DVD, external drive, or USB flash drive.

  4. As this infection is known to be bundled with the TDSS rootkit infection, you should also run a program that can be used to scan for this infection. Please follow the steps in the following guide:
    How to remove Google Redirects or the TDSS, TDL3, or Alureon rootkit using TDSSKiller
    If after running TDSSKiller, you are still unable to update Malwarebytes' Anti-malware or continue to have Google search result redirects, then you should post a virus removal request using the steps in the following topic rather than continuing with this guide:

    Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help Topic

    If TDSSKiller requires you to reboot, please allow it to do so. After you reboot, reboot back into Safe Mode with Networking again.

  5. When in Safe More with Networking, we must first end the processes that belong to Privacy Protection so that it does not interfere with the cleaning procedure. To do this, please download RKill to your desktop from the following link.

    RKill Download Link - (Download page will open in a new tab or browser window.)

    When at the download page, scroll down and click on the click on the link labeled eXplorer.exe download link . When you are prompted where to save it, please save it on your desktop.

  6. Once it is downloaded, double-click on the eXplorer.exe icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with Privacy Protection and other Rogue programs. Please be patient while the program looks for various malware programs and ends them. When it has finished, the black window will automatically close and you can continue with the next step. If you get a message that RKill is an infection, do not be concerned. This message is just a fake warning given by Privacy Protection when it terminates programs that may potentially remove it. If you run into these infections warnings that close RKill, a trick is to leave the warning on the screen and then run RKill again. By not closing the warning, this typically will allow you to bypass the malware trying to protect itself so that RKill can terminate Privacy Protection . So, please try running RKill until the malware is no longer running. You will then be able to proceed with the rest of the guide. Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.

    If you continue having problems running RKill, you can download the other renamed versions of RKill from the RKill download page. Both of these files are renamed copies of RKill, which you can try instead. Please note that the download page will open in a new browser window or tab.

  7. Now you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, from the following location and save it to your desktop:

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)

  8. Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including this one.

  9. Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mbam-setup.exe. This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.

  10. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process. Do not make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave both the Update Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes' prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.

  11. MBAM will now automatically start and you will see a message stating that you should update the program before performing a scan. As MBAM will automatically update itself after the install, you can press the OK button to close that box and you will now be at the main program as shown below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Screen

  12. On the Scanner tab, make sure the the Perform full scan option is selected and then click on the Scan button to start scanning your computer for Privacy Protection related files.

  13. MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can take quite a while, so we suggest you go and do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan. When MBAM is scanning it will look like the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scanning Screen

  14. When the scan is finished a message box will appear as shown in the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scan Finished Screen

    You should click on the OK button to close the message box and continue with the Privacy Protection removal process.

  15. You will now be back at the main Scanner screen. At this point you should click on the Show Results button.

  16. A screen displaying all the malware that the program found will be shown as seen in the image below. Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.


    MalwareBytes Scan Results


    You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove all the listed malware. MBAM will now delete all of the files and registry keys and add them to the programs quarantine. When removing the files, MBAM may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot, please allow it to do so. Once your computer has rebooted, and you are logged in, please continue with the rest of the steps.

  17. When MBAM has finished removing the malware, it will open the scan log and display it in Notepad. Review the log as desired, and then close the Notepad window.

  18. You can now exit the MBAM program.

  19. As many rogues and other malware are installed through vulnerabilities found in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer. A tutorial on how to use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs can be found here:

    How to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector

 

Your computer should now be free of the Privacy Protection program. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.

If you are still having problems with your computer after completing these instructions, then please follow the steps outlined in the topic linked below:

Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help

 


 

Associated Privacy Protection Files:

%CommonAppData%\privacy.exe
%Desktop%\Privacy Protection.lnk

File Location Notes:

%Desktop% means that the file is located directly on your desktop. This is C:\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\<Current User>\Desktop\ for Windows 2000/XP, and C:\Users\<Current User>\Desktop\ for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

%CommonAppData% refers to the Application Data folder for the All Users Profile. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data for Windows 2000/XP and C:\ProgramData\ in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

%CommonAppData% refers to the Application Data folder in the All Users profile. For Windows XP, Vista, NT, 2000 and 2003 it refers to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\, and for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 it is C:\ProgramData.

 

Associated Privacy Protection Windows Registry Information:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\<random chars>
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run "Privacy Protection"

 


 

This is a self-help guide. Use at your own risk.

BleepingComputer.com can not be held responsible for problems that may occur by using this information. If you would like help with any of these fixes, you can ask for malware removal assistance in our Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs forum.

If you have any questions about this self-help guide then please post those questions in our Am I infected? What do I do? and someone will help you.


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